Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush Cuts Global Abortion Aid International Groups That Back Procedure Denied U.S. Funding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush Cuts Global Abortion Aid International Groups That Back Procedure Denied U.S. Funding

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- President Bush, on his first working day in office, resurrected a ban on federal funding to groups that provide abortion counseling or services overseas, delighting abortion opponents and dismaying groups that support abortion rights.

Bush aides tried to downplay the action, saying the president was merely fulfilling an oft-repeated campaign promise. But the issue threatened to distract from Bush's plans to focus during his first week on education, a subject he used during the campaign to define himself as a "compassionate conservative."

Bush himself told reporters of his intent to issue the abortion-related decree. Almost exactly eight years ago, as one of his first actions, President Clinton issued an executive order that restored funding to groups that provide abortion counseling overseas.

Bush's action will reverse Clinton's order and restore the situation that existed under the administration of his father, President George Bush.

"It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad," Bush said in a written statement.

The action had additional resonance because yesterday marked the 28th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. Thousands of abortion protesters converged on Washington as they do every year at this time, and Bush's action appeared designed to send them a message.

Bush had been invited to personally address the rally against abortion, but instead he sent a statement that was read aloud by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

"We share a great goal, to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law," Bush's statement said. "We know this will not come easily or all at once, but the goal leads us onward, to create a culture of life."

The abortion protesters roared approval when told of Bush's order. Some in the crowd shouted: "We love you, George."

With Clinton gone and Bush in office, said Rita Koffler, 46, a grocery story cashier from Smock, Pa., who has taken part in six previous abortion marches in Washington, "now we have a spring in our step. There is someone who is listening to us up there."

In Congress, Bush's action was hailed by Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., R-Okla., chairman of the House Republican Conference. "Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize groups like International Planned Parenthood, whose mission is to topple pro-life laws of countries around the world."

Bush has walked a delicate line on abortion since his campaign. The religious right, which held its fire and supported Bush, passionately opposes abortion; many in the American political mainstream so assiduously courted by Bush, however, oppose outlawing the procedure.

Bush has generally said that while he is against abortion, overturning Roe vs. …

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